I’m a fairly early adopter of new technologies that make sense, although I’ll still wait till the more obvious glitches and weaknesses have been ironed out before jumping in full blast. For example, I bought my first digital camera in the mid-’90’s, a Sony Mavica that recorded what are now pathetically low resolution images on a 3.5 inch floppy diskette (remember those?). It was a technological marvel, but it took more than 10 years before the technology had improved enough for me to give up my film-based Leica M in favor of a digital model (the Leica M8.2).

Similarly, I’ve used e-readers like the Kindle for a couple of years but they haven’t displaced my hard-copy books, newspapers, and magazines. Simply put, while these electronic media are very convenient, they’re just tough on the eyes and brain. Reading anything that requires concentration beyond a few pages is quite challenging, and usually gives me a headache. This hasn’t stopped me however, because I realize that during any hiatus, the technology continues to march onwards and you may well miss improvements that result in a “tipping point”, i.e. the technology may be just right for you at a certain point.

I’m not sure we’re there yet, but I just downloaded a book from Kindle onto my iPad and I noticed that if I really take the time to play with the various adjustments (font size, background color, columns, brightness, etc.), I can actually get to a “sweet spot” that makes the reading much easier and less painful. Not perfect mind-you, but tolerable for longer than usual. And the fun part is that I can read it on my big-Mac, my iPad, and even my iPhone; each one synchronizing with all the others to make sure I’m always at the same bookmark….very cool.

Now, one of the really weird phenomena that I’ve noticed is that e-book prices have skyrocketed, in many cases being higher than the hard-copy version! While this may be counterintuitive, I think it’s a testament to the fact that e-Books are catching on and that publishers believe they can charge a premium for the convenience. I still balk at this idea and won’t buy it unless it’s at least a little less expensive; a sign, I’m sure, of my age and value-for-money sensibility.

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